Fashion & Beauty

Don’t call it a pocketbook: A guide to handbags

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A few of my favorite things.

It’s recently come to my attention that I have too much stuff. This slow-burning realization was of course catalyzed by my move across the country, which has forced me to take a hard look at my belongings and truly contemplate the meaning of the word “necessity” in a way I never really had before. (It’s a weird and annoying word that just sounds prissy and precious, in my opinion. Let’s do away with it.)

We’ve all read articles about how to pare down your wardrobe and do more with less. That’s all well and good when it comes to clothing, and it makes sense when your living quarters afford limited room for excess. But one area where I refuse to compromise is in the handbag arena.

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Fendi oyster bag, Paul & Joe Sister tote, Cambridge crossbody.

I get questions all the time (from concerned friends and family, not like, the media or anything) about why I need so many bags. “Don’t you just use the same one every day, anyway?” (This is my dad.) The answer here is a resounding no.

I can be a reasonable person when pushed, but I’m not budging on this. If you’re hauling around a faded, fraying, ancient leather sack with the intention of replacing it only after it releases a final groan of agony and sends your laptop and gum wrappers tumbling to the floor, please just delve deep into the reserves of your compassion and put the damn thing out of its misery.

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Tan clutch: Aimee Kestenberg, mini backpack: Coach, black tote: Botkier, tan/cream tote: vintage Dooney & Bourke.

You need more than one bag. You don’t need 20+, but you do need more than one. Like shoes, bags are designed for different occasions, and there’s no one-size-fits-all fix. The tote you use to lug your computer to work just isn’t appropriate or practical to carry at a wedding, or out on New Year’s Eve. A bag is meant to make a statement and complement your look, and while it serves a functional purpose, it shouldn’t just be something you’re grudgingly dragging around because you need somewhere to stash emergency tampons. That’s sad, and in my opinion, wrong.

Rue La La has done a great job piecing together this [actually informative] guide for handbags with a simple breakdown of classic handbag silhouettes. There’s even a section on authenticating designer bags if you’re inclined to splurge on vintage or consignment. Based on the guide, here are my personal MVPs for building a collection from the ground up:

— a classic, polished tote for work & everyday
— a larger hobo for weekends and the days you’ll need to carry more
— a small clutch or evening bag for more formal occasions

I’m obviously a person with a passion for purses, and I do understand if that’s just not your bag (ha). But there’s nothing that can class up an outfit more quickly than some arm candy. And unlike your favorite pair of jeans, a bag won’t look shittier on you after a weekend of bingeing on beer and pizza.

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Gucci tote, vintage YSL tote.

Happy shopping!

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Fashion & Beauty

Colorful Life

It’s been a while, I know. I’m sorry. I’ve had a trying month, but it’s nothing a little materialism hasn’t been able to fix. Sometimes I think I’m kidding, but I’m really not sure. Not going to try too hard to figure that out.

Anyway, luckily for all of us, there’s a trend that will now allow us to part with our money a little more easily. If you live in a city that’s been thoroughly infiltrated by fleets of food trucks (the best invention ever, maybe), you’re probably in luck.

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Clothing trucks have been quietly making the rounds for a bit, and I’m lucky enough to know a real live person who owns one. I reached out to my friend Gechi, who I’ve known since high school, after seeing that she’d started her own business here in the DC/VA area. I was, and still am, super impressed by her moxie, and I wanted to hear how she got started.

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I met up with her on a Saturday in Courthouse, where her truck was parked for the day. At first I was skeptical about the potential for a quality shopping experience in the back of a vehicle, but I kind of felt like I was stepping into a large walk-in closet.

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I pressed Gechi about the origins of her idea, because to me it seemed kind of mind-blowing. She’s always been super fashionable, so it’s no wonder she’d want to own her own store. She told me that she got the idea to buy a truck when she worked a charity event for her old employer, a consignment shop in Arlington called New to You. The store rented a truck for the event, and brought their merchandise straight to the venue. It was a huge success. After nearly three years working in retail, she quit to pursue the truck idea full-time.

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Within weeks she’d bought her own vehicle and hired a crew to gut the interior and put in wood floors and track lighting. As for the stuff, she chooses each item herself from brands she’s grown to like, contacting the manufacturers directly. These relationships can be tough to form, especially for a new, small business, but she says the most challenging logistical piece is acquiring the permits to park at street fairs, open-air markets, etc. Her schedule is constantly evolving based upon which events she can get permits for. She updates Facebook and Twitter to let her followers know where she’ll be and when, usually a few days beforehand.

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The stuff was great, and reasonably priced for a lunchtime splurge. I’m pretty easy to tempt, though, and I guess that’s the hook here– portable boutiques can theoretically show up wherever there are people with wallets who like clothes.

Unfortunately for us DC/VA residents, Gechi and Colorful Life will be moving on to Philadelphia to serve my alma mater(s). She and her mobile boutique will definitely be missed, and DC just got a little less fashionable (shocking!!!!). You can still find other trucks in the area, though, and she’s promised to fill us in on who to look out for. Stay tuned.

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